by Vikki Salmela, (BS ’80), owner and designer, Polka Dot Studio
During my visit this summer to SoHE, I saw the incredible positive changes since I graduated that highlighted the alternative paths so many alumni, including myself, have faced during our careers: rocky roads, insta drop-offs, u-turns, blocked intersections . . . all leading to “Wow, I found the detour and it’s a spectacular view.”
I’m proud to be an alumna of SoHE and recognize that the new experiences within my art studio have led me back to my roots. I was a textiles and apparel design major, and went to FIT for my junior year. Most of my career was spent in apparel until recently, when I saw the industry evolve toward an uncertain future. I remembered the lessons taught at SoHE, stuck my head out of the box, and took a leap. I want to share with you my landing.
Not one to be a spectator, I have been developing what I know and love in exciting and rewarding directions. Obstacles often force us into places we would never have dreamed otherwise. A recent branching out for me, grounded in SoHE principles, is into the emerging profession as a certified Personal Photo Organizer through APPO, an international organization that covers all areas of memory preservation and reconnects people with their photos. Being one of the few certified with two design degrees, I am able to creatively help clients organize, restore, and share their family memories and genealogy. Spontaneous photographs, kids’ drawings or parents’ memorabilia can make for incredible stories through photo books, videos, products, collages and events. How lucky I am to be in a time where I can help preserve peoples’ memories and enjoy blending the passing world of old photos with the new world of digital captures. Inspiration spreads as the genealogy industry grows, and baby boomers are realizing “let’s get our act together before it’s too late.” Art and therapy can address mental incapacities, which is one of the most eye-opening family transformations that I see. For those interested in working creatively with a family’s dynamics, personal photo organizing is a very rewarding use of one’s talents in a growing field.
Within textiles and apparel, new technology has developed state of the art factories, uplifting spirits and reviving an industry under much duress – what a relief! I’ve been diligently working in test mode with an environmental PAM (Purchase Activated Manufacturing) factory as a design consultant and artist, preparing for an upcoming product website. My artwork printed on scarves by the test factory recently won the 2014 Golden Image Award at the SGIA Expo in Las Vegas, a national honor. This is extremely exciting for U.S. apparel because it means jobs will be created in new areas. As we increasingly use our phones and mobile devices to purchase products, these high-tech PAM factories may be a part of the rapidly changing technology world, allowing companies to brand and sell online more efficiently. Orders arrive at the factories, are printed out, cut, sewn and shipped under one roof at the time of purchase. Think about double-sided printing in one run, no water usage, and an avatar fit.
My art has spread from textiles to a wide variety of products like phone cases and outside area rugs, and has sold online to places around the world. Soaking in knowledge, making a twist as I jump, I’m enjoying the view. Much like SoHE, my dreams are set high: expanding into to selling my brand direct to consumer while reaping the emotional rewards of helping families with creatively achieving their family heritage needs. It’s awesomely rewarding.